Monday, September 15, 2008

Lock Dam Campsite: Allagash Wilderness Waterway Canoe and Guide Training Trip Journal 2006

September 13, 2006
In the early morning light, the fog was so thick visibility was less than fifty feet.
We got up about 5AM and checked in with Paul who was sick with a head cold. He said he'd be OK, so we woke everyone else up. We made coffee first thing- but everyone decided to delay breakfast so we’d get an earlier start. All our gear was packed and we departed Gravel Brook campsite about 7AM . The fog covered the lake and it got thicker as we paddled into it. We had assigned Bud to point (first canoe) as he had a GPS. I also had a GPS and I went last (sweep) to be sure everyone was in between us. It was scary, exciting, and served to really build our confidence.

We navigated a safe course left of the point across the bay. Our original plan was to eat breakfast at Donnelly Point. However, by the time we got there, the water was calm and clear. The lake was a giant mirror and the fog swirled around us. I took many cool pictures. Everyone elected to push on and wait longer for breakfast. We aimed for Ellis Brook campsite for breakfast.
Ellis Brook campsite is actually on the brook not on the point as it appears on the Delorme Allagash map. We had overshot the campsite by half a mile or so. Rather than go back, we crossed the bay and put in at Lock Dam campsite around 10AM.
We cooked our oatmeal over propane which ended up being ready at 11AM so we ate our lunch at the same time- Nutella, jelly, and peanut butter on two packages of crackers. We put dehydrated pears in our oatmeal and it tasted good. Will full bellies, some took naps. I went down and washed up a bit in the lake with a few others who were interested in the warm sun that had burned off the fog.
We all relaxed and decided we'd stay here for the night instead of pushing on due to the unsettled weather and wind that had started to come up. In the afternoon, Ryan, the assistant ranger for the area, stopped in to check our camping permit. He'd just graduated from Unity College and had only been on the job for four weeks. On the Allagash, Rangers work nine days on and get five days off. As a teenager, Ryan came here a lot with friends in the winter to ice fish. That is what got him interested in his career choice. We had been out bathing and the girls were sunning themselves when he stopped. After the ranger left, Jeff came back to report that he'd been skinny dipping around the point and the ranger caught him. He just waved and smiled with his “naughty bits” exposed. Jeff has a great sense of humor. Cool phrases I heard around the campsite that day: “as subtle as a barbed wire sandwich”, “a local general store that carried everything from a baby's fart to a thunderclap”, “a stressful situation doesn't make a stupid person smarter”, “hunger is the best sauce”, “if it flies, floats, or f**ks, RENT don't BUY”, “opinions are like a**holes- everyone has one.” At least we had moved on from the bodily function humor.
Then we had a survival lesson from Jeff Butler. I recorded some of it and took notes. Jeff’s main point was that in a survival situation most people worry about food, when in fact they should be looking for water and shelter. After our lesson, Devin and I started to cook dinner. Jeanie made the sourdough biscuits. I cut up carrots and onions. Devin cooked the burger and onions. I steamed carrots. Tim chopped up a whole head of cabbage. We dumped a soup mix package into the burger. Once it was cooked, we dumped everything into a stainless steel bucket and stirred. It was very tasty.
SUGGESTION: laminate all recipes and put them into the kitchen box so that whoever is cooking has something to refer to. There was a bit of confusion as to what we were supposed to make and how we were supposed to make it. Jeff and Tim were busy so we had to wing it.
It was dark after dinner and, while people cleaned up, we talked about the stars again. It was getting cloudy so we could only see one star. Jeff explained that even if you can only see one star, lie on the ground, pick a point and watch that star. The star will move east to west, so you really only need to see that one star to be able to navigate at night. We were all in bed by 9:30PM. Rain and drizzle began around 2AM.

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